An undercover cop goes too deep into the Cincinnati drug trade. The local drug lord, a man who calls himself God, controls all of the action in Ohio. As the cop moves up the ladder, he ... See full summary »
A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.
An undercover cop goes too deep into the Cincinnati drug trade. The local drug lord, a man who calls himself God, controls all of the action in Ohio. As the cop moves up the ladder, he befriends the gangster, learns of his violent tendencies, but also sees him as a benefactor to the poor, a dedicated family man, and one who staunchly defends his friends. The cop's commanding officer fears that he has become too close to the gangster and will be unable to regain his identity, a fear that comes close to reality when the big bust ultimately happens. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Those looking for a rousing shoot-em-up action picture will probably be disappointed by `In Too Deep.' Those looking for a more low-keyed, subdued and thoughtful study of the realities of life as an undercover cop will, however, find much in this film to admire and appreciate. Omar Epps stars as a Cincinnati-based rookie cop, Officer Jeff Cole, who goes undercover to nab a major cocaine dealer from New Jersey who calls himself `God,' (played by rapper LL Cool J) and who, Godfather-like, involves himself heavily in familial values and efforts to `help' the struggling members of his blighted neighborhood. In its exploration of its subject, the film wisely eschews the over-the-top fantasy heroics that afflict so many action films and, instead, tethers itself to the harsh, often ugly realities of the dangerous criminal world in which it is set. The movie builds much of its drama and suspense by bringing to the foreground the fascinating logistics that go into undercover police work, forcing us to witness first hand the risks, the moral compromises (to be convincing, Cole has to snort cocaine himself, for example) and the psychological ambiguities that invariably accompany the job.
Cole is a man who has been obsessed from the early days of his underprivileged, slum-ridden childhood with making a difference in a crime-infested world he knows all too well from first hand experience. This makes him a natural choice for infiltrating this underworld existence since his background has given him the understanding he needs as a point-of-entry. Thus, as he embarks on this new and dangerous career, we see the innate compassion he extends to those caught in the same environment from which he has sprung, an empathy that, in the context of his job, often leads him into a `softness' that clouds his judgment and ends up endangering his life further. In addition, as he is accepted more deeply into the inner circle of trust that God has set up around himself, Cole begins to question his own loyalties or so, at least, the offers in charge of him begin to believe. (This, I imagine, is the undercover agent version of the Stockholm Syndrome that afflicts so many kidnap victims, often leading them to transfer their loyalties from their rescuers to their abductors).
The screenplay, though it could be sharper and more incisive at times, occasionally achieves substance in its examination of just what happens to an undercover agent's mind when he does indeed get `in too deep.' In addition, the film frequently achieves moments of genuine suspense, in truly scary scenes involving God's uncontrolled displays of manic violence and torture and in moments when Cole's entire cover seems to have been `blown.' In those moments, LL Cool J hits all the right notes in his performance but, both he and Epps, unfortunately, lack the dramatic and emotional range as actors necessary to make their quieter, more intimate moments effectively credible. In addition, the dialogue often rings untrue, especially in the conversations among the commanding officers played by Stanley Tucci and, in another weak portrayal, Pam Grier among others.
With better performances, harder-edged dialogue and slightly more energetic direction, `In Too Deep' might have been a great study of moral conflict set within the context of an exciting policier. On the other hand, the film could also have been much worse. As it is, `In Too Deep' respects the seriousness of both its subject matter and its audience and provides a number of powerful scenes - factors for which we are grateful but which also make us yearn for the high quality film that might have been.
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